Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Migratory Bird Ecosystem Disruption Research Published

Black and white Warbler Using data on 77 North American migratory bird species from the eBird citizen-science program, scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology say that, in as little as four decades, it may be very difficult to predict how climate change will affect migratory bird populations and the ecosystems they inhabit.

Their conclusions are presented in a paper published in the journal Ecography. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Eyeshine: Those Glowing Eyes Looking Back At You

eye shine I’ve taken to wandering the night lately – one of the pleasures of having a puppy. Willow, my pup, and I walk at all hours, from twilight to midnight and into the shadowy early morning. Some nights we walk under the cover of stars and moonlight, and other nights the world is so dark my black dog disappears and I wonder what exactly is on the end of my leash.

Void of visual stimulus, any earthbound glimmer of light is noteworthy. One night I saw the glow of two small eyes, like gold coins caught in the arc of my headlamp. I watched the weasel – a long small body, and bold shimmering eyes – disappear down the crevice of a stonewall. Since then I’ve become obsessed with eyeshine. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Herpetofauna of the Adirondacks Talk in Schenectady

frogThe Kelly Adirondack Center at Union College has announced Herpetofauna of the Adirondacks, a talk with Alvin Breisch, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Fish and Wildlife (retired), set for April 11, 2019, in the Old Chapel on the Union College Campus, 807 Union St, Schenectady.

Refreshments will be served at 5 pm, with the lecture beginning at 5:30 pm. This event is free and open to the public. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 25, 2019

Roosting Crows: Birds of a Feather

American Crow Birds of a feather flock together. It’s a metaphor dating back to the sixteenth century; used even then in alluding to people with similar interests, motivation, loyalties, or like minds.

It’s also a straightforward reference to the fact that birds congregate with others of their own species. So, when I’m asked, as I have been recently, about the considerable numbers of crows that people have seen roosting in the village of Malone, I’m inclined to simply answer, ‘birds of a feather…’ » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Viewpoint: Important Tick Research Needs Support

tick next to dimeI’d been living in the North Country for about a month when I woke up to discover a red bulls eye on my left arm. Since, mentally and emotionally, I have never advanced much past the fourth grade, my first thought was: “Cool!”

Because it was clearly visible, however, a number of people subsequently pointed out that this, technically, was nothing to celebrate. So I walked around for the next three days looking like the dog from the Target ads, while people dutifully commented on my impending doom.

Nothing ever came of it. So far the only discomfort ticks have caused me is embarrassment, owing to an appointment with a massage therapist that went horribly wrong. » Continue Reading.


Friday, February 22, 2019

A Natural History of Adirondack Flying Squirrels

Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake (ADKX) next 2019 Cabin Fever Sunday Series lecture, Night Moves: Natural History of Adirondack Flying Squirrels with Charlotte Demers, is set for February 24th, at 1:30 pm. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

My First Trout and The Rainmakers

My advice to nine-year-old wanna-be trout anglers is: “Do not wear a sweater.” Repeat: “Do not wear a sweater.”

My earliest trout fishing days in and around Bakers Mills in today’s Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area were frustrating because my own fishhook invariably caught mainly my sweater. And we mostly used night crawlers not artificial flies then. Better to wear something less adept at snagging stray hooks. Try thick vinyl, maybe. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Feeding Deer Does Much Harm, Little Good

deeryard A few winters back, there was a doe who frequented our compost heap. The garden fence around it proved an inadequate barrier, as she simply hopped over it to nosh on the rotting shards of jack-o-lanterns and the latest veggie scraps tossed atop the pile. Not far from the garden sits an old orchard, and we’d also spot her there, scratching with sharp hooves to get to the long-frozen, shriveled fruit beneath the snow.

Watching deer forage for whatever bits of food they can find through the cold months of winter, I can understand why some people feel an urge to feed them. Only supplemental feeding isn’t helpful at all to deer. Instead, it’s detrimental to their digestive health, and it pulls them away from safer, more nutritious food sources. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Sociable Gray Squirrel

squirrels On winter mornings when I look out my window, I often see a gray squirrel clinging upside down to the post supporting my bird feeder, with his front paws in the tray, munching sunflower seeds. Sometimes, a much smaller red squirrel is perched on the opposite side of the feeder.

This brings to mind my studies of squirrels years ago and the differences between the two species. For my thesis in biology at Williams College, I conducted a field study of social behavior and organization in the eastern gray squirrel in a suburban area in Williamstown, Massachusetts. My first step was to live-trap and mark squirrels so I could identify individuals. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Understanding This Winter’s Polar Vortex

A strong polar vortex configuration in November 2013I’d love to explain exactly what a polar vortex is, but I’ll spare you the details, mainly because I don’t know them.

Apparently, the definition of a polar vortex has been changed by the American Meteorological Society three times in the last 20 years — even the experts are still trying to nail down what it is. Besides freaking cold, I mean. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Adirondack Moose Survey Results: 175 in 83 Groups

moose New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the completion of it’s annual aerial Adirondack moose survey, part of a collaborative study of the health of New York’s moose population.

A total of 83 groups of one or more moose were observed during the survey’s 175 sightings, with all appearing healthy. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Beneath The Ice: The Quiet Parlor of the Fishes

ice skating When I’m skiing or skating across a pond, I observe the shoreline, surrounding hills, islands, maybe a woodpecker or blue jay winging its way to the opposite shore. I look up at the sky, the clouds, swirling snowflakes. But there is a world beneath my feet that I don’t see, in what Henry David Thoreau called “the quiet parlor of the fishes.”

Beneath a layer of ice up to three feet thick, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and tiny invertebrates are going about their winter business. For most of these creatures, this means slowing their metabolism down to survive with reduced light and oxygen. They move less, eat less, and breathe more slowly than in warmer months. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 4, 2019

Paul Hetzler: Playing Your Brains Out

common ravensBody-surfing monster waves in Australia; snowboarding down rooftops in Alaska on improvised boards; tobogganing into deliberate pileups at the bottom of steep hills — the range of unsupervised play that youngsters can get into is jaw-dropping. That’s not to mention the dangerous romping and horseplay, as well as rude games like spit-soccer in the pool. Honestly, they are such animals.

Biologists have long pondered why so many animal species evolved to play, occasionally at their peril. And to some extent, they are still wondering. Juvenile play in primates such as humans and apes is well-documented, and other mammals such as dogs and cats clearly play as well, but it turns out a surprising array of animals engage in frivolous games. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Tyler Socash: An Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve

A future Willsboro Wildway

Think about the last unexpected mammal, bird, or amphibian that you crossed paths with in a wild space. Perhaps it was a black-backed woodpecker near a bog. Maybe it was an unassuming spotted salamander among the fallen leaves. I once saw a frolicking family of fishers on a walk in the woods.

Anecdotal wildlife encounters help to remind us we aren’t alone in this world. We share natural landscapes with thousands of species who call them home.  But look at a map of the Eastern Adirondacks and a few things stand out: Lake Champlain’s massive coastline, the Adirondack Forest Preserve closer to the Park’s interior, and the Adirondack Northway (I-87), splitting the region in two. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Whitney’s Elk Relocation Experiment

elk enclosure sketchIn the early 1900s, numerous elk were set loose at several places in the Adirondacks, with the hope of re-introducing the species.

These efforts, made possible by private individuals, were described briefly in a book by William Temple Hornaday, American Natural History: A Foundation of Useful Knowledge of the Higher Animals of North America, Volume 2 (published in 1914). » Continue Reading.